|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Jockey Shane Sellers, returning from an injury that sidelined him 10 months and almost cost him his riding career, will begin riding on a regular basis at Arlington Park Sunday and remain primarily at the local oval until the fall meeting at Keeneland begins in early October.
In 1991, when riding at Arlington throughout the summer season, Sellers dominated the jockey standings, winning the championship at Chicago's premier oval and establishing a record of 219 winners that still stands.
Sellers exuded positive perceptions concerning his upcoming dramatic comeback when speaking over the phone from Saratoga Thursday morning. The Louisiana-born reinsman has been getting on horses on a regular basis at the upstate New York oval, and will accept his first riding assignment at Prairie Meadows on Saturday before coming to Chicago.
"I'm really excited," Sellers said. "Especially at the thought of coming back to Arlington. I had the best meeting of my career at Arlington, and thinking back on it, that's what pushes me now. Momentum is what we need in this business, and I'm really grateful at the response I've been getting from trainers like Wayne Lukas and Elliott Walden and so many other horsemen who are ready to put me on their horses.
"I'll ride the Sunday stakes ($60,000 Flawlessly) at Arlington, continue on there through the week and then go out of town to ride the Bassinet and the Cradle (at River Downs), and another stakes at Prairie. But mostly, I'll be at Arlington until Keeneland opens."
Needless to say, the chance to return to the saddle and resume his riding career at the highest level has put a hold on Sellers' other well-publicized career as a country and western singer. Despite earning some recognition with his hit single "Matthew, Mark, Luke & Earnhardt," Sellers has put his vocal talents on the back burner.
"If it won't interfere with my riding career I'd like to continue singing," said Sellers, "but mostly I'd continue only if it could help horse racing and promote the sport by getting it recognition with a new audience."
When last sent to the post on August 5 at Arlington Park, Tom Boy Stable's Robin de Nest settled just behind the early leaders in the $55,000 Dr. Fager Handicap, challenged for command inside the furlong grounds and still was able to draw clear late for a one-length score.
"That was definitely a good race for him," said Frank Bernis, assistant to trainer Tom Amoss on Thursday during training hours. "Hopefully, he'll run that race back against Bet On Sunshine on Saturday."
Robin de Nest will face the prohibitive favorite Bet On Sunshine, owned by David Holloway Racing Stable, Inc., in Saturday's fourth running of the $100,000 Arlington Sprint. Bet On Sunshine has won two of the three previous renewals of the Sprint.
"We're going to try him," said Bernis, of Robin de Nest's role as a prospective giant killer against Bet On Sunshine Saturday. "The last time we ran against Bet On Sunshine, we had kind of a rough trip. We know that Robin de Nest likes this track, but Bet On Sunshine seems to like every track he runs on."
With the possibility of rain in the forecast for Saturday, Bernis was asked how Robin de Nest would handle an off track.
"The only time he ran on an off-track, he loved it," said Bernis. "But that was over a sloppy track in a conditioned allowance race at the Fair Grounds. He won that race by six and a half lengths, but this will be a little tougher spot on Saturday."
Cresran LLC's Chindi won the $125,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn in 1998 during the Racing Festival of the South, firmly establishing his credentials at the time as the sprint champion of the Southwest.
However, that was more than three years ago, and although Chindi was able to run second in that same central Arkansas event this past April against the solid sprinter Bonapaw, the gray gelding's best races appear to be behind him.
"He's getting a little old," said Mitzie Hobby, wife of Chindi's trainer Steve Hobby as well as his chief assistant. "He's seven now, but he's still got it in him somewhere. He still can do it, but he's not quite the horse he used to be."
In Saturday's featured stakes race at Arlington Park, Chindi will face David Holloway Racing Stable, Inc.'s Bet On Sunshine, defending champion in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Sprint.
In his only start at Arlington this summer, Chindi finished a well-beaten ninth behind Robin de Nest in the $55,000 Dr. Fager Handicap August 5. But before that, at Prairie Meadows on the Fourth of July, Chindi was a good third, once again finishing behind the winning Bonapaw, in the $150,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap.
"He's still sound," Mitzie Hobby said, "and he still seems to like his job. He had a good work a couple of days ago, and he's doing very good right now."
Chindi, as a distinctive gray, has always been a crowd favorite. On his best days, he trails well behind the field, appearing hopelessly beaten, but launches a bold late kick that used to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with regularity.
"I don't think he could beat Bet On Sunshine on his best day if Bet On Sunshine runs his race," said trainer Steve Hobby, "but Chindi is still capable of a big effort on any given day. He's just not quite as consistent as he used to be."
Wilton E. Scott's Boots On Sunday breezed an impressive half-mile in :46 3/5 Thursday at Arlington Park, getting the four furlongs almost five seconds faster than any other horse going that distance during Thursday training hours.
Boots On Sunday, a contestant in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Sprint, galloped out an additional eighth in :59 3/5 over the muddy going under jockey Corey Lanerie.
"He worked super," said Illinois State clocker Bobby Belpedio of Boots On Sunday's move. "He handled the muddy going easily, and any horse that has won 11 out of 22 starts gets my vote as a contender."
Boots On Sunday, an invader from Texas, comes to Arlington from a winning effort in the $35,000 J. R. Strauss Memorial at Retama Park on August 3. Previously, the Pine Bluff colt had scored by two and a half lengths in allowance company at Lone Star Park June 29.
The Menoninee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has officially withdrawn its application for land that had been proposed for Indian Gaming in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Previous discussions involved building an Indian Casino at the location of Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha.
On August 24, 1968, Dr. Fager established a world record of 1:32 1/5 in the one-mile Washington Park Handicap while carrying 134 pounds.
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